The most exciting launch on the way this Autumn has to be the brand new Hakkasan Mayfair, opening its doors on Bruton Street mid November. The tucked away Hanway Place original has been an amazing success since its launch nearly 10 years ago. Along with fine, modern Chinese cuisine it ushered in a new breed of dark, sexy and very trendy restaurant bars to the capital.
The new site takes this now international brand (with its new Abu Dhabi owners) to the next level with two floors including a spacious, 75-seat lounge bar upstairs and another small bar on the main dining floor in the basement. You can expect similar dark woods and sleek design, this time by Paris-based designer Guillaume Richard, and with the more amenable location this should be the hot new place to be seen.
Partly thanks to Hakkasan, restaurant bars are no longer just a place to kill time before dinner but destination spaces, and some of the most sophisticated bars in town. The top Asian restaurants lead the way with Zuma and Nobu Berkeley high on the most wanted list, and Roka too (in both the West End and Canary Wharf) with its funky yet homely Shochu Lounge. There’s also award-winning new comer Aqua Spirit with its wonderful terraces.
At the end of Charlotte Street, Caprice Holdings’ Bam-Bou has a relaxed and little-known top floor Red Bar. Less Asian but with its own seductive top floor bar is the uber stylish L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, featuring fantastic cocktails and cosy granite fireplaces.
Other newcomers include the performance-lead Circus in Covent Garden and the very hip Hix in Soho, with its comfy sofas and arty, metropolitan feel. Sketch of course was one of the forerunners and still maintains its chic looks and a certain mystique. Momo’s exotic Kemia Bar also still boasts one of most exclusive restaurant bars in London.
Other members bars attached to restaurants include Quo Vadis – its discreet lounge club comes complete with billiards room – and the alluring Almada underneath Automat. If you want to step back in time then try Mosimann’s in Belgravia, where the stunning Belfry houses a wonderful mezzanine balcony bar with sublime, old school service to match.
Tim Badham is the founder of Innerplace, London’s leading provider of VIP entertainment, including film premieres, fashion shows, launch parties and members club access.